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Family folklore is the branch of folkloristics concerned with the study and use of folklore and traditional culture transmitted within a family group. This includes crafts produced by family members or memorabilia which have been saved as reminders of significant family events. It also includes family photos and photo albums in paper and electronic format, along with bundles of other pages held for posterity such as certificates, letters, journals, notes, and shopping lists. Family sayings and stories which recount true events are retold as a means of maintaining a common family identity. Family customs are performed, modified, sometimes forgotten, created or resurrected with great frequency. Each time the result is to define and solidify the perception of the family as unique.
Family folklore has long been included in the documentation of the folklore of regional, ethnic, religious or occupational groups. Responding to a call in 1958 from oral history pioneer Mody Boatright to document the "family saga,"  folklorists responded with published accounts of stories and traditions passed down in their own families. It is only since the 1970s that this lore has also been investigated as a defining element of the family group. L. Karen Baldwin's unpublished dissertation (1975) laid the further theoretical groundwork for family folklore "… not only is the family a folk group, but it is also the first folk group anyone belongs to."
Since then, the field has blossomed, broadening to include the expanding understanding of family. The conventional extended family, consisting of a heterosexual married couple with children and grandparents, now incorporates gay partners, unmarried committed relationships and children adopted or born through non-traditional methods and procedures. Family traditions themselves are changing to meet the needs and expectations of these new concepts of family.
The study of family folklore is distinct from genealogy or family history. Instead of focusing on historical dates, locations and verifiable events, this area of study looks at the unique stories, customs, and handicrafts that identify the family as a distinct social group. Family lore often changes to convey a sense of family identity and a set of values both within and without the family group. Family lore defines the family story. In 1996, American folklorist Barre Toelken wrote:
For an individual family, folklore is its creative expression of a common past. As raw experiences are transformed into family stories, expression, and photos, they are codified in forms which can easily be recalled, retold, and enjoyed. Their drama and beauty are heightened, and the family’s past becomes accessible as it is reshaped according to its needs and desires. … Its stories, photographs, and traditions are personalized and often creative distillations of experience, worked and reworked over time.
- 1 Family as a folk group
- 2 Transmission
- 3 Detritus of family lore
- 4 Forms
- 5 Institutions involved in the study of family folklore
- 6 See also
- 7 Footnotes
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Family as a folk group
A child is born or adopted into an established family group, which contains a microcosm of social alignments found in many larger groups: the vertical relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, the horizontal relationship between siblings and cousins of a generation or age group, clusters of girls or boys and skill-based family alliances. The child grows up in this family and learns the family lore as it is performed throughout the seasons and the life cycle. Not only is the family the first folk group of the child, but it is also "the group in which important primary folkloric socialization takes place and individual aesthetic preference patterns for folkloric exchange are set."
The dynamics of family folklore change through the addition of newborns and adoptions, but especially by the regular incorporation of new adult family members through each marriage or a committed relationship. With the formation of each new family node, a unique subset and combination of the customs and traditions of both families are incorporated into a new story, both modifying and enriching the current family lore.
As part of the ongoing broader discussion of "family" and what it means, family folklore redefines itself as well. Along with the classic family of "father-mother-child(ren)", family folklore has expanded to include single-parent families, blended families, communes, and gay and lesbian families. The indicator for a family now includes any group which identifies itself as a family based on intimacy, shared space, and shared history. Any collection of adults and children in a committed relationship which sees itself as "us," unique and separate from other families, will develop and transmit unique stories and customs. Non-traditional families frequently strive to re-establish and re-enact traditional family customs and lore. This becomes a demonstration, both to themselves and to outsiders, that they are indeed a family of "tradition".
The transmission of individual stories and customs within a family depends for the most part upon the personality, character, and lifestyle of individual members. One member typically does not have the defined role of passing along family lore. As a family reshapes itself around each birth, death, marriage and other life events, individual members elect to pick up items of family lore to own and perform. This might be learning a skill, telling a story (or story cycle) or baking a traditional dessert for a holiday table. The transmission of individual items can be picked up by several different family members, for example when several grown siblings use a family recipe or tradition in their own households. This type of transmission through multiple individuals was first described in an article by Dégh and Vázsonyi as "multi-conduit transmission". By choosing to own a piece of the family lore, family members signify that this tradition embodies beliefs and values to which they adhere. By spreading it to the rest of the family, these beliefs and values come to define the family.
There are multiple spheres within the family and household which have been "traditionally" defined as in the purview of one gender or the other, creating an intersection between family folklore and gender studies. Thus the transmission of folklore in these areas will run through either the male or the female lines. An obvious area of gender-related transmission is seen in the kitchen, where food preparation and mealtime customs have historically been performed by women. In the course of everyday meal preparation, family folklore is often transmitted from mother to daughter. A variant of this is seen when a man in the family has taken over the preparation of a special meal or special recipe. One common example of this practice is described by Thomas Adler in the article "Making Pancakes on Sunday: The Male Cook in Family Tradition". Many families have some variation of this tradition: BBQ ribs, grilled hamburgers, or deep-fat fried turkey prepared as a single specialty by the non-cook in the family.
A different gender-related variation in folklore transmission is seen in storytelling. The same story will be shaped and told differently by a man and a woman, even though they were both in the presence at the original event. For an event occurring during the apple harvest, for example, a woman's narration might include details of the apple butter recipe they were cooking at the time. In contrast, the man's narration might give only enough detail to "make a point worth telling". This gender-based variance has been studied by both Baldwin and Margaret Yocum. They found "… women's telling to be more collaborative, interruptible, and filled with information and genealogy; men's telling, by contrast, is often uninterrupted and more competitive."
There is often deference to the family member who is the designated performer of a specific custom or tradition, even though the custom is known to everyone within the family group. So it happens that when the "last basketmaker" dies, another member will step up to become "the last basketmaker." No one else performs the tradition as long as the designated bearer of the tradition is available, as family members acknowledge this individual as the (current) keeper of this tradition. Only when this person is no longer available will the tradition be picked up by someone else to carry forward. "Traditional deference" can be found in many folk groups but is particularly evident within the family group.
Detritus of family lore
If the family lore which is picked up and transmitted represents the chosen familial beliefs and values, then the lore that does not support and enhance these values become problematic. Therefore, items such as newspaper clippings on arrests, photographs of the uncle who deserted the family, stories of a sister who cheated, or papers about a dishonorable discharge from military service often will not be saved. That is not the family story this family wants to preserve.
Family traditions are also lost or modified in response to difficult events within the family. This is obvious when one of the tradition bearers has died. If no one else steps up to own that tradition, a hole is left in the celebration and this tradition is lost. In a divorce one parent is frequently no longer available to play his or her role in the established traditions. For example, one family decided to change the traditions. The customary tall Christmas tree decorated by the (missing) tall father was traded in for a short tree which the children could decorate. Ornaments were discarded and new ones purchased. The toy train was no longer set up. These became the new traditions for the Christmas celebration, modified to support and tell the new family story.
Another reason family folklore might be suppressed or lost is when the references are too painful at the present time or to the present generation. When photographer Catherine Noren found photo albums and other family portraits in her grandmother's attic, she unwittingly unearthed an entire family history of a prosperous German-Jewish family before the Holocaust. It became her task, one generation removed, to explore and record the family history in a book containing photos, diaries and memories of her family history. It is only because these items were not discarded that Noren came to know her family story.
In the 1970s, family folklore began to be investigated as a defining element of the family group. As part of this investigation, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. set up a tent for several years to collect the family lore of visitors to the festival. The goal was to establish an archive of family folklore as part of the Smithsonian collections. Using taped interviews, representative pieces have been published in the book A Celebration of American Family Folklore: Tales and Traditions from the Smithsonian Collection. Despite its lack of performance data, this collection provides a solid overview of the wide range of family folklore forms.
Family stories and sayings
A family story recounts an actual historical event concerning specific family members. Seasoned with time and re-telling, the story gets revised and honed to express specific values and character traits treasured in the family. Instead of historical accuracy, the narration becomes a medium to restate and re-enforce shared values of the family group. These stories generally take the form of an anecdote and follow the pattern of traditional tales. A favorite family story involves how the parents met, or how one parent chose the other among several rivals. According to one family's story, the prospective bride had to untie all the knots in the string to demonstrate her care and diligence. Another family tells how the young couple was stuck at the top of a Ferris wheel when he proposed, and she had to either say yes or jump. Given time and repetition, the anecdotes serve to shape the overall family story, populating it with real individuals and historical events that are made personal. In their transmission, these stories serve to codify the norms of behavior within the family.
The setting for telling family stories becomes part of the tradition. It can include family occasions when stories are told. Or a particular location can prompt storytelling. Sometimes, families have designated raconteurs or custodians of the stories. Each of these elements needs to be documented as an integral part of the storytelling tradition along with the stories themselves. In one family, for example, following a holiday meal the men would retire to the study and the women would move into the kitchen. At some point in the cleanup, usually, after the best dishes had been washed and put away, the mother would bring out a bottle of schnapps to help complete the work. This became the trigger for family stories and jokes, the laughter from the kitchen frequently bringing the men to join in the storytelling.
Another type of verbal lore common within family groups is the unique family expression or saying. A saying can be created at any time; it starts as a one-time utterance of a family member to capture a single moment. Through repetition, it becomes a shorthand reference to both the original and the current situation. In one family, the saying "… good worker, very strong" signifies that the speaker wants to come along, and would, in fact, be a valuable addition to the planned undertaking. This expression originally referred to a first move of the family, a move that current family members took no part in. Even so, the saying has become code words for all family members, used to communicate encrypted commentary on the present as well as to re-enforce and strengthen the family's shared experience and history.
Photos, letters, journals and other papers
Papers stacked, bundled or boxed: news clippings, photographs, letters, scrawled notes, journals, receipts. These family artifacts take many forms and have become a significant part of family archival materials. Frequently jumbled together in cardboard boxes, their value as additions to the family story is often unclear. The boxes are passed along until they are either thrown out in a move, destroyed in a fire, or find an owner within the family who has the interest and time to house and evaluate them.
The largest collection of papers is frequently photographed, either kept in a drawer or labeled and organized into albums. Each photo documents only a single moment; yet taken together they create an important visual history of the family. Either way, they serve as triggers for extensive memories, stories, and events in the life of a family. They are brought out at gatherings and used to commemorate events such as a wedding or funeral.
The consistency in which American families of all ethnic backgrounds tend to have photographs of the same milestones is noteworthy. Naked babies on carpets or in the wading pool, the first day of school, the birthday cake surrounded by family and guests, generational portraits gathered around the new baby can be found in many family albums. The pictorial repetition by American families of all backgrounds and traditions documents the universality of family photography as an important custom.
As with storytelling, the occasion for photo-taking becomes a family tradition in and of itself. Year after year, the same pictures are snapped; documenting a family which is growing and changing, adding and subtracting members, detailing a new location. The camera can be as much a part of the celebration as the birthday cake or the menorah.
The ubiquity of cameras and online photos since the rise of cellphone cameras and personal websites is dramatically changing the tradition of family photos and photo albums. The availability of video recordings and video-conferencing allows for a daily log of family growth and minutiae to be saved and transmitted to family near and far in real time. Grandparents can get a daily or weekly update on children's growth or milestone events. Family members can video-conference with each other, making geographic distance much less significant in family relations. A new family custom, using the technology of today, is to put together a slideshow or video documenting the story leading up to a celebration. At this time a folklorist can only speculate on evolving customs of family photography.
Some families have also amassed over decades a collection of letters and other papers written by or about family members. One family, in sorting through boxes of papers, discovered all diplomas for family members from 2nd grade Sunday School up through doctoral degrees. Other documents include the family Bible, military enlistment or discharge papers and certificates of baptism. While certificates authenticate the dates and events in the family history, letters and journals are particularly revealing about the character and thoughts of individual family members.
Similar to photographs, letters and journal entries document a single day in the life of a family member. Once these papers have been saved, it falls to members of the following generations to evaluate them. Are they to be preserved as part of the family story or discarded as inconsequential or even damaging to the family? For the most part, unfavorable documents are discarded; that is not the family story this family wants to save.
The introduction of emails, IMs and other electronic messaging means that paper documents of family history are no longer regularly generated. Electronic communication is seldom printed for the family files. The 19th and 20th centuries saw dramatic increases in literacy and the resources to create and preserve paper documents. Now, these forms of family history and lore are themselves becoming history.
Each family has its own traditions, played out year after year, event after event. These traditions are frequently so ingrained that their recognition as unique to the family only occurs when compared to other families. This is also how family folklore is most often exposed to change or modification. With each additional marriage or committed relationship, a new member from a different family gets added who does not recognize the family customs as "traditional." These new members bring their own traditions which need to be reconciled, perhaps added or even substituted into the current performance. Not only through marriage, but births and deaths also add a dynamic factor to family traditions. When the first grandchild is born, everyone moves into a new role, mom becomes grandma, the brother becomes uncle, and the youngest member of the family loses that position to the new baby. These factors lead to the dynamic development of new and renewed family traditions.
One major and understudied area of family traditions is found in foodways, which includes everything involved in the procurement, preparation, serving and eating of daily meals at home. Most of us go home each evening for dinner, wake up for breakfast and pack up a lunch or snack pack to take with us for the day. All the assumptions about how this occurs—who does what and when—are challenged only when the established process (i.e. family custom) hits a snag: we've run out of milk or someone ate the last of the cookies. Maybe dad is off on a trip and can't make the Sunday morning pancakes. Each of these food customs is understood and accepted by the group as a whole and followed as a matter of course with little or no discussion.
It is also customary that family mealtimes differ: breakfast food differs from supper and snacks, weekends frequently vary from the weekday diet. In one busy family, a scoop of ice cream on breakfast cereal turned the meal into an easy, fun supper. There might also be a traditional Sunday Dinner to be prepared and staged weekly with an expanded family group gathered around the table.
Holidays and "life event" celebrations, from birthdays to wakes, include multiple family customs, either superimposed upon the more broadly defined societal celebrations, or substituted for them. This is seen most obviously in traditions in the preparation and "performance" of a holiday meal. Each family has its own unique traditions, from special dishes prepared only for this dinner to a single individual who prepares and presents a single dish, to the individual assigned to carve the bird. It is unnecessary to mention examples of this. North American readers can review the Thanksgiving traditions unique to their families. This list of special holiday traditions expands easily from the dining table to the distribution of presents for Christmas or Hanukkah. Each of these, along with countless other details, may distinguish a family as a unique social unit.
Another significant family tradition involves naming customs. When a new baby is born, incorporating family names into the name for the new baby, or conversely not using family names for the next generation, can become problematic. What rules should be followed? Many ethnic groups have their own naming customs, variations of which might be found within the separate family groups of the parents. There are also different ethnic customs about who has the authority to pick the name for the baby. When published lists of currently popular names and with expectations of family members are added to this mix, it can become a challenge to craft a name which pleases everyone.
Handicrafts and memorabilia
All possessions are considered pieces of material culture—objects with which members of a culture customarily surround themselves. However, family folklore is focused only on handicrafts produced by family members and memorabilia passed along through generations.
Memorabilia are objects passed down through the family with the stories and memories about the events or individuals attached to them. In one family a doll, given once as a Christmas present, continued to be brought out each year to celebrate Christmas. As part of the tradition, the doll's picture is taken with the changing family. For the doll's hundredth birthday, a birthday cake was included in the Christmas celebration. Like the doll, almost any object imbued with family stories and memories can become a family heirloom. As such, it holds in the family a value often unrelated to its monetary value. As the stories and memories enveloping the object are slowly lost, the object itself becomes a simple hand-me-down, usually in poor condition and ready to be discarded.
Handicrafts are objects that were "homemade," crafted individually using simple tools by one or more family members. The skills for these artisanal crafts are generally transmitted within the family; such as weaving, welding, pottery, woodworking, quilting, basketry or cooking. The handicrafts can be functional or decorative in the home. Over time these handicrafts are nurtured within the family, as become a point of family identification for outsiders. The family cultivates both the product knowledge and the objects themselves.
One aspect of both family memorabilia and handicrafts is that they are for the most part one-of-a-kind. Many family members can tell the story of the Christmas doll or keep family photographs, but only one family branch can actually possess the doll. For handicrafts, a craftsman could decide to create a quilt or a rocking chair for each child in a family. But this just postpones the decision of ownership of the item to the following generation.
These objects allow family members to experience simultaneity in the home in addition expressing the family's stories or memories. "By gathering around ourselves treasured objects from different times of our lives and our histories, we experience different eras at the same moment and in some way bring the totality of the past to bear upon the present," according to one expert. For example, consider an heirloom bowl. The bowl helps preserve the family history and identity both for the family member who walks past the bowl sitting on the counter and the outsider who asks about the origin of the unique item. "The artifacts that family members make, use, or display can be an unseen backdrop to the duties and demands of family life. Alternatively, they might be carefully crafted statements about the values and expectations of family tradition bearers." A candy bowl on the coffee table or a silver tea service set out in the dining room speak of an elegance of hospitality which is customary in this family.
Institutions involved in the study of family folklore
The first Smithsonian Folklife Festival took place in 1967. It was set up on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to exhibit and demonstrate crafts and customs of diverse ethnic, regional and occupational groups. Originally including only displays from the United States, it was later expanded to include traditions and customs from around the world. Each exhibit at the festival endeavors to move beyond the items of tangible culture, the arts and objects we can touch, feel and put in a glass case. Each unique performance or display at the Folklife Festival articulates the goal of the Smithsonian Institution to spread its reach beyond material objects to artifacts of intangible cultural heritage. Festival exhibits such as "The Changing Soundscape in Indian Country" (1992), "American Social Dance" (1993), "Mississippi Delta" (1997), "Asian Pacific Americans: Local Lives, Global Ties" (2010) are just a few of the exhibits included since the Festival began. Any of these cultural intangibles, including traditions of performance, ritual, music, dance, traditional knowledge, storytelling or oral transmission, is considered for inclusion at the festival. The festival's goal to "legitimize and celebrate individual Americans and their traditions". Open to the public at no cost, the festival is devised to enable visitors to find at least one exhibit which relates to their background.
In 1974 a new tent was added to the Festival. Instead of displaying or performing recognized traditions, its goal was to collect items of family folklore from visitors. This tent was unique at the festival in asking visitors to be active contributors to the folklore on display instead of merely receptive spectators. A sign at the tent was hopeful: "Family Folklore—Will You Share Yours With Us?" Card tables with checkered table clothes were set up, interviewers with tape recorders were on hand to prompt, listen and record visitors' descriptions of family lore. Visitors not only could see their family traditions represented elsewhere in the exhibits, but they could recognize and record parts of their stories as a unique and valued artifact of cultural heritage.
During the four years that the tent was included at the festival, it gradually was cluttered with objects, memorabilia, and photos just like any family home. Taking the taped interviews as a baseline, the stories and customs collected in the tent were used to establish an archive of family folklore as part of the Smithsonian collections. Representative pieces were then published in the book A Celebration of American Family Folklore: Tales and Traditions from the Smithsonian Collection. This collection continues to be supported by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Since this first Smithsonian Folklife Festival, many regional festivals have been established in all parts of the country. These include the Northwest Folklife Festival, the New England Folk Festival and the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Each of these is supported by various institutions of public folklore, with the goal of displaying traditions of regional, ethnic and occupational folk groups. None of them, however, has duplicated the Smithsonian Family Folklore tent in its effort to collect original family folklore.
Oral history and oral tradition projects
Oral history and oral tradition first became recognized as legitimate forms of historical and cultural research in the 1960s and early 1970s. Pioneers in this field used newly developed, inexpensive tape recorders to preserve oral histories. A Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Studs Terkel in 1985 for his book "The Good War": An Oral History of World War II and a special Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Alex Haley in 1977 for Roots: The Saga of an American Family. With these awards, the importance of oral histories and traditions as a bona fide tool of historical and cultural research was cemented.
Historical and folklore research using oral interviews has gone mainstream, with multiple organizations dedicated to its collection. One of the best-known organizations is StoryCorps, founded in 2003 and modeled on the WPA Federal Writers Project. Its mission is to "record, preserve, and share stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs." Special projects reach out to targeted populations to fulfill StoryCorps' commitment to record a diverse array of voices. The only requirement for the two-person interview is that the participants "care about each other," such as members of the same family. The participants are given a recording of the interview to take with them to add to the family archive.
StoryCorps is just one of many organizations with a goal of recording and preserving interviews of oral history and tradition. Other organizations abound, such as City Lore of New York City and the Oral History Society of London.
- American Folklife Center
- Intangible cultural heritage
- Material culture
- Public folklore
- Smithsonian Folklife Festival
- Margaret R. Yocum (1997). "Family Folklore", pg. 279. In Folklore An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art, ed. Thomas Green. California / ABC-CLIO.
- Mody C. Boatright (1958). "The Family Saga as a Form of Folklore". In The Family Saga and Other Phases of American Folklore, eds. Mody C. Boatright, Robert B. Downs, and John T. Flanagan. Urbana / University of Illinois Press.
- Kim S. Garrett (1961), "Family Stories and Sayings", pp 273–281. In Publications of the Texas Folklore Society, Vol. XXX.
- L. Karen Baldwin (1975). Down on Bugger Run: Family Group and the Social Base of Folklore. University of Pennsylvania / Unpublished Dissertation.
- Polly Stewart (2008), "Karen Baldwin (1943 - 2007)", pp. 485–486. In Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 121, Fall 2008.
- Steven J. Zeitlin, Amy J. Kotkin, and Holly Cutting Baker (1993). A Celebration of American Family Folklore: Tales and Traditions from the Smithsonian Collection, pg. 2. Cambridge / Yellow Moon.
- Barre Toelken (1996). The Dynamics of Folklore, pp 196–197. Utah / Utah State University Press.
- Sims, Martha C., Martine Stephens (2005). Living Folklore, pg 31. Utah / Utah State University Press.
- Linda Dégh and Andrew Vázsonyi (1975). "Hypothesis of Multi-Conduit Transmission in Folklore", pp. 207–255. In Folklore. Performance and Communication, ed. Dan Ben-Amos. Den Haag, Paris.
- Thomas A. Adler (1981). "Making Pancakes on Sunday: The Male Cook in Family Tradition", pp. 45–55. In Western Folklore, Vol. 40.
- Margaret Yocum, Family Folklore, pg. 282.
- Zeitlin, pg 170.
- Catherine Noren (1976). The Camera of My Family. New York / Knopf, 1976.
- From 1974–1978
- For further examples including traditional heroes, rogues, survivors, migrants and more, see Zeitlin, pp. 10–125.
- Zeitlin, pg. 95
- Zeitlin, pg. 96.
- Told by the Riedel family from Freiburg, Germany. Recorded October 2014
- Told by the Wiley family from Seattle. Recorded June 2012.
- Zeitlin, pg. 146 ff.
- see Zeitlin, pg. 184 ff
- Michael Owen Jones (1983). Foodways and Eating Habits: Directions for Research Paperback. California Folklore Society.
- The American Folklore Society has a section dedicated completely to Foodways. Many other scholarly groups also consider the study of food traditions as part of their domain, including Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, Ethnology as well as modern findings on Nutrition and Health.
- Zeitlin, pg. 203.
- Zeitlin, pg. 201.
- http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3406900153.html Archived 2014-08-27 at the Wayback Machine Jill Terry Rudy
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-14. Retrieved 2014-11-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Complete list of programs by year". Archived from the original on 2014-07-08. Retrieved 2014-11-05.
- Zeitlin, pg. 272.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-15. Retrieved 2014-11-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Oral history" Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine Columbia Encyclopedia
- Danielson, Larry. (1996). "Family Folklore." in American Folklore: an Encyclopedia, ed. J. Brunvand. New York: Garland.
- Dégh, Linda; Andrew Vázsonyi: "Hypothesis of Multi-Conduit Transmission in Folklore". In: Ben-Amos, Dan; Kenneth S. Goldstein: Folklore. Performance and Communication. Den Haag, Paris 1975; S. 207–255.
- Glassie, Henry (1999). Material Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
- Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. (1989). "Objects of Memory: Material Culture as Life Review." in Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: a Reader, ed. Elliott Oring. Logan: Utah State University Press.
- Rudy, Jill Terry. (2003). "Family Folklore." International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. December 6, 2014.
- Toelken, Barre (1996). The Dynamics of Folklore, revised and expanded edition. Logan: Utah State University Press. Pp 101 – 110. "Dynamics of Family Folklore".
- Yocom, Margaret (1997). "Family Folklore." in Folklore: an Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art, Vol. I, ed. Thomas Green. Santa Barbara, CA: abc-clio.
- Zeitlin, Steve J.; Kotkin, A. J.; Baker, H. C., eds. (1992). A Celebration of American Family Folklore: Tales and Traditions from the Smithsonian Collection. Cambridge, MA: Yellow Moon Press.
- Bascom, William R. (1965). "Four Functions of Folklore." in The Study of Folklore, ed. Alan Dundes. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Danielson, Larry, ed. (1994). "Family Folklore: Special Issue." Southern folklore 51.
- Gillis, John R. (1997). A World of Their Own Making: Myth, Ritual, and the Quest for Family Values. Harvard University Press; New edition (August 8, 1997)
- Stone, Elizabeth. (1988). Black Sheep and Kissing Cousins: How our Family Stories Shape Us. New York: Times Books.
- Thursby, Jacqueline S. (1999). Mother's Table, Father's Chair: Cultural Narratives of Basque American Women. Logan: Utah State University Press.
- Wilson, William. a. (1991). "Personal Narratives: the Family Novel." Western Folklore 50:127–149.